Saturday, June 20, 2009

War certainly is hell.

"Fields of Fire," James Webb's classic novel about Vietnam describes the horrors of Vietnam so vividly, the reader can close their eyes and visualize the helicopter landing on a field in the country and joining the platoon fighting for their lives.

Robert Lee Hodges, Jr. has a rich family tradition in the military and in 1969 he enters the Marines to add his legend to the family history. It was said that with his family background, if there had been no Vietnam, he'd have to invent one.

After completing Marine Officer training he's shipped to Vietnam. He is a replacement for an officer, killed in battle. After joining the unit, we meet the men who are central to the story.

Snake, nicknamed for his tattoo has a low level job in the states. After an unpleasant incident and fight at work, he's fired. He sees the marine motto, "Death Before Dishonor" has that tattooed and then enlists. His steady attitude and fearlessness in battle helps save other lives.

Will Goodrich is the college man of the unit. While his buddies were running off to Canada or going to grad school to avoid the draft, he leaves Harvard and joins up. He is the sensitive man of the unit and we see many horrors through his eyes and can feel the affect of the destruction on a young man not much more than a teenager.

These men and others are in a position where enemies surround them. Is the farmer in the village nearby really just a farmer or is he Viet Cong?

Webb lets the reader see what war will do to a man. Sgt. Austin joins the platoon, he's spit and polish and demands rules that work stateside but not in the world of death and destruction. Not long after his arrival he's fragged. One of his men throw a grenade close enough to injure him and take him away from the unit.

A well done story that relives a time of history that is still looked on as one of the darkest in the United States.

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